Hope you’ve all been having a great week so far. A lot of people ask me which exercises I do to shape my legs. I’d love to share them with you! Some women have the misconception they can’t tone muscle in their legs because they weren’t a track athlete or have don’t have “good genetics.” Of course, you can— it just takes consistent training and the right nutrition over time. Here are some of my top staple exercises that you should never miss on lower body day!
Lunges or Step-ups
These are great not only because they shape and tighten the legs, but they work your balance as well. As we get older, it becomes more and more important to perform functional exercises in order to increase our strength, and decrease our risk of injury. With dumbells or a barbell, step up onto a bench, pushing through the WHOLE foot. If your heel is not on the bench, you’re going to miss engaging the glutes! Make sure your heel is on there. Repeat on one leg for 15-20 reps, or alternate legs.
Don’t feel comfortable with free weights? Jump on this machine! For those with sensitive knees, you may also place your feet higher on the platform and use lighter weight. Everyone else can vary foot placement depending on which part of the leg you’re trying to shape. To engage the quads (front of the legs), place your feet in the middle of the platform, narrow stance, with toes slightly pointed outward. For hamstrings/glutes, place the feet high, wide and with toes pointed slightly inward on the plate. Go as heavy as feels comfortable to you so long as you are pushing through the WHOLE foot, and your knees feel OK.
This exercise for making your legs TIGHT and ready for a bikini or that cute pair or shorts. You can hold dumbbells, a barbell or use the Smith machine. With your core tight and belly drawn in, sit down to about parallel (pretend there’s a chair behind you), and make sure the knees don’t go over the toes! Try it a few times without weight, and check your profile in the mirror. If you feel it in the quads (front of the legs), and glutes (your butt), then you’re doing it right. If you feel it more in the lower back, you should check your form so your back isn’t arching, and possibly try more core work before using free weights.
One of my favorite glute exercises is the single-leg press! Place your foot high on the platform, and using full range of motion, drive through your heel and press. Sometimes, I also like to lean to the side toward the leg that’s doing the work in order to engage the muscle more. Be mindful WHERE you’re feeling the tension in the muscle. It’s easy to let the quads take over if you’re quad dominant. Engage those glutes!
Sprints and Plyos
As a former track athlete, I’m a firm believer that sprints and jumps not only make a great cardio session, but a great LEG workout! They fire those fast-twitch muscles we hardly use in our day-to-day activities. The high intensity is also a great way to shock the system, increase your metabolism, and of course, tighten and tone those thighs! Don’t be afraid to increase the incline and speed on that treadmill, or hit the old high school track!
Prone Leg Curl
This machine shapes my hamstrings more than any other exercise. Lie face down, making sure the pivot point (the big red dot that separates the lever) lines up with your knee in order to avoid injury. Squeeze up, bringing the pad all the way to your glute, HOLD for one to five seconds, then release it back down. If you feel your hamstrings burning, your form is great. If you feel it more in the glutes or lower back, lighten the weight a bit, and really focus on isolating those hamstrings and feeling the burn!
If you guys have any comments or questions, feel free to drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! I always appreciate your input! Until next time! :)